Shiva as Neelakantha

Here’s a little story that explains one of Shiva‘s more popular monikers: Neelakantha. This is directly translated as “blue throated one” (neela – blue in Sanskrit). In “the churning of the ocean” episode (Samudra Manthan), many wonders came out of the depths of the ocean (see The first thing to come up was the super poison Halahala. This poison was so toxic that it threatened to destroy all of creation. The devas took the poison to Shiva and asked for his aid. Not realizing that it would be fatal even to himself, Shiva confidently drank the Halahala poison. Luckily for Shiva, his clever and quick handed wife Parvati immediately caught him by the throat. This trapped the poison forever in his throat; she saved his life but it rendered his throat the colour of dark ink.

I have recently started imagining this episode as an allegory for self-reflection. When the ocean was churned the first thing to come out was the deadly poison, dark and venomous. With the help of Shiva they overcame their fear of the poison by dealing with it, thus neutralizing its harmful effects. With patience, determination and effort the devas continued to churn. This lead the way for the discovery of many great gifts from the depths and culminates with the nectar of immortality. As in self-reflection, it is difficult, requires effort and is sometimes unpleasant. We often avoid it because the first things we encounter aren’t very pretty. However, by facing our personal poison our fear is removed. Once the poison is gone we can also continue to churn and discover other wonders. Knowing our weaknesses makes us stronger. If we were to have weak points in our armour, knowledge of those points will save us in battle and if we are so inclined we can even strengthen and improve those weak points, making our armour impenetrable. The culmination for us, the ultimate discovery, is drinking the ambrosia of total self-knowledge and thereby becoming powerful and immortal.

[Of course, the more obvious lesson is “Wife knows best!”]


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Nisha
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 09:07:05

    Lol! I think every husband who reads that last line will agree with it!! 🙂


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